A Democrat running for president in 2020 is testing a basic income proposal by giving $1,000 per month to a family

Andrew YangAndrew Yang

  • Democrat Andrew Yang is running for president of the United States. His long-shot campaign is centered on providing a universal basic income for Americans.
  • Yang wants to help Americans who are losing jobs to automation, and he believes a basic income could create 4.5 million new jobs.
  • The core of Yang's campaign is the Freedom Dividend, which would give out $1,000 per month to every American between the ages of 18 and 64.
  • Yang is testing the dividend this year in Goffstown, New Hampshire, where one family will receive $1,000 a month for a year. The family got the first payment on New Year's Eve.

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang, a 43-year-old entrepreneur-turned-politician, is focusing his campaign on helping Americans who are losing jobs to automation.

Yang wants all Americans to benefit from a universal basic income, which would provide regular cash payments to people regardless of their employment status. Although he is a long-shot candidate, the Democrat said he believes so strongly in the need for a basic income that he is dedicated to running.

At the core of Yang's campaign is the Freedom Dividend, which would give out $1,000 per month to every American between the ages of 18 and 64. Citing research by the Roosevelt Institute, Yang previously told Business Insider that a basic income program could grow the US economy by $2.5 trillion per year and create 4.5 million new jobs.

"When you realize how historic and unprecedented levels of inequality are, and that the trends are about to speed up and get worse, the numbers point to a clear disintegration of American society," Yang told Business Insider in 2018. "People are waking up. There's no rational solution to these trends that does not include some form of universal basic income."

Read more: Critics of universal basic income argue giving people money for nothing discourages working - but a study of Alaska's 36-year-old program suggests that's not the case

The entrepreneur is testing his basic income proposal ahead of the 2020 presidential election by giving $1,000 a month to a family in Goffstown, New Hampshire. The Fassi family will receive the monthly stipend for one year.

In 2016, Charles Fassi was let go from a company that services equipment for chemical dispensing. Fassi had spent 13 years there, most recently as a manager, and told New Hampshire Public Radio that he believes automation contributed to the job loss.

Fassi was let go the same week his daughter started college, and Jodie Fassi sold her husband's car to make sure Janelle would be able to stay at St. Anselm College. Janelle Fassi later filled out an online form for her family to be considered for Yang's dividend.

The basic income is technically just meant for Jodie Fassi, Yang told CNBC, but the presidential candidate has met the entire family and gave them their first payment at a New Year's Eve party in New York. According to NHPR, Yang did not ask the Fassis how they plan on spending the money.

While they don't yet know what they will do with the basic income, Charles Fassi said they have discussed starting a business. Charles, who has found a new job but makes less money than before, hopes the basic income will improve his family's quality of life.

Andrew Yang large headshotCourtesy of Andrew Yang

On a visit to Concord, New Hampshire, in the spring 0f 2018, Yang explained why he wants to test his Freedom Dividend before implementing it on a larger scale.

"The goal is to illustrate the impact a thousand dollars a month can have on a family or a household here in New Hampshire and putting my money where my mouth is," Yang reportedly said.

Yang has worked with his attorneys to make sure that the test is legal. NHPR reported that the payments will come from Yang's personal account, so the campaign believes his actions are in compliance with election law.

No complaints have been lodged against Yang's campaign so far, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office told NHPR.

The Democratic candidate's dividend is one of several recent basic income proposals in the United States. In February, an 18-month trial is set to begin in Stockton, California, where 100 residents will receive $500 a month.

Y Combinator, the largest startup accelerator in Silicon Valley, has launched its own trial and plans on giving $1,000 a month to residents from two different states for three or five years. Another basic income trial is already underway in Jackson, Mississippi, where 15 single black mothers are receiving $1,000 per month for one year.

Other politicians have called for a basic income as well. In Chicago, alderman Ameya Pawar proposed a bill to provide 1,000 families with $500 a month in a pilot that would make Chicago the largest US city to provide a basic income.

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